Posted by: Ticktock | October 13, 2009

10 Tips to Being a Better House-Husband…

Four years ago, as a fledgling parent, I went to the At-home-Dad Convention in Chicago and tried my best to absorb the wisdom of all the old-timers in attendance. These guys all had one common denominator; many of them were “Type-A” personalities (a few former military).  One of the dudes in my biased sample of experienced  fathers told me something that I’ll never forget, “You better be a good house husband or your wife may just fire you.”

I haven’t been the best house-husband. I’m tired a lot. I have a short attention span. I’m impossible to wake up. I don’t often cook. I’m horrible with schedules and often make decisions by the seat of my pants.  In essence, I do not fit the profile of a “Type A” personality. Not that that’s an acceptable excuse.

The internet often stokes the flames of the flaws I’ve listed above. Between reading blogs, checking e-mails, writing posts, and doing part-time data entry, I’ve lost any motivation to be a better “first dude”. And my vice has only become worse now that my kids have matured enough to play independently.

Two things have happened recently that have put me on a path toward house-husband rehab. The primary thing is that my wife called me out on my behavior. I didn’t have a decent answer for her and had to admit that I’m slightly ADHD, slightly depressed, and slightly lazy.

The second motivator has been my friend Stacy (mentioned in my last post), a recently retired nanny, who took the time to write me out a strategy for better house-husbandry.  It sounds so pathetic, but I needed an intervention to help me be a better person, husband, and father.

So, I’m writing this here so that she has a record of my public promise to her that I will change.  The difference in my attitude between this week and last week has made my family much happier. I think it’s worth sharing what I’ve done to improve myself.

Here are some tips on being a better house-husband, but keep in mind that these tips are directed at myself, rather than at most house-husbands.

  1. Write out a schedule for the week. Make a plan. When will you clean? When will you spend quality time? What activities will you play? Etc.
  2. Be a man and wake up with the kids, make the family breakfast, and start the morning at the table. If that means not staying up until 2am, then so be it.
  3. Wash dishes after every meal rather than waiting until the end of the day.
  4. Try to get the kids to play outside every day.
  5. Plan specific activities to do with the children. I’m trying out a new web site called Productive Parenting; they email an age-appropriate activity every day for FREE.
  6. Read chapter books while they eat at lunch time.
  7. Find creative ways to let the kids help with lunch and chores.
  8. Keep a cleaning schedule and force yourself to stay on it.
  9. Keep yourself off the internet and your kids off the TV.
  10. Get out the recipe book and start cooking dinner for the family.

You might be wondering how I’m able to write such a long post if I’ve turned over a new leaf. It’s because I’ve scheduled time to do that during naps. I shouldn’t have to give up my blog because I’m ending my internet addiction. Or, at least, I’m not willing to do that. You just might see less of me, but that’s OK because there are many of us writing for the blog now.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has had to overcome the same problems. I’d also love to hear any advice for activities to do with my kids.

Time to go clean a toilet and fold clothes. Wish me luck on staying motivated! I’ll need it.



  1. Thanks for this. My husband needs this. I’ll see if I can find a way to give it to him without making him feel like a jerk…

  2. best of luck. I went through something similar a year ago.
    The best advice I can give is to not etch those 10 items in stone and allow yourself time to make the transition. Cold turkey can cause more depression if you have setbacks. For example some days it will not be practical or wise to get those dishes washed right after the meal, don’t let this become a failure. For me it was the cleaning schedule. What I thought I could do on paper proved impossible to keep up. I went a couple weeks of not cleaning at all because I hated my chore list but would not let myself change it And sometimes effort can count more than results.
    I found the key to cooking is to make a weekly meal plan so at 5pm you don’t spend an hour deciding what to eat and then have no energy to actually cook. Also leave one or two days open in case plans change and for time sake you just need a microwave pizza or carry out.
    We will be trying the Productive Parenting website also.

  3. “Write out a schedule for the week. Make a plan. When will you clean? When will you spend quality time? What activities will you play? Etc.”

    You might try having a generic, old-fashioned schedule (Like the lyrics for “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush) such as change sheets and do that laundry on Monday, etc. The general idea is to reduce the amount of decision-making. If it is Wednesday, you do X, given that all the week’s “X, Y, Z” activities end up with the house in good order.

    You might also try to develop a menu plan as Trent suggests. Real Simple has a pretty nice group this month, with shopping lists. It seems a chore at first and non-spontaneous (what if I don’t WANT beef stir-fry noodles on Wednesday???!!!) but if you try it for a month it might become comfortable.

    “3. Wash dishes after every meal rather than waiting until the end of the day.”

    Nope. Assuming you have a dishwasher:

    “Get all plates & eating utensils in the dishwasher as soon as you are done with them” — yep. “Wash and set to dry all cooking utensils as soon as you are done with them” — yep.

    “7. Find creative ways to let the kids help with lunch and chores.”

    Let me rephrase that. “Finding age-appropriate ways to gradually make the kids responsible for making their own lunches, managing their own laundry, noticing other family-life chores that come up..”

    Many 3 year old children can match socks (his own and everybody else’s) — with a lot of adult participation (training). Many 5 year old children can fold underwear, t-shirts, pajamas, and pants (if that’s how you manage pants), and deposit same in the relevant drawers.

    This all can be … educational. “Simon, how do we know these socks match?” (teaching to look for details, etc.) “Jason, yep, folding laundry is boring. But even boring things done with full attention can be rewarding” or “Golly, Jason, I don’t like folding laundry either. But if you and I do it while you tell me a story, well that’s kind of fun…”

    • Unfortunately, I am the dishwasher.

      I have a detailed schedule that I’ve added to my phone and synced with google calendar. That’s what I’m recommending. You’re absolutely correct.

      I’m also recommending a menu plan, just as you and Trent suggest. I’m only forcing myself to cook two meals during the weekdays to be realistic and not shock my system. Besides, the truth is that my wife is a better cook.

  4. I am blessed in that my work all the time husband cooks. If he cooked every day, we would eat at midnight (which we often do anyway), and that’s not good for toddlers. 🙂

    So we have a deal. We have ‘big cooking day’ wherein my glorious husband, who works 60+ hours a week spends ALL DAMNED DAY cooking for the MONTH. You heard me, the month. We parcel it out, freeze it, and eat like damn hell ass kings until the food runs out.

    This is one way to address a shortcoming you can’t seem to get past– but my DH LOVES to cook, and it makes him feel like he’s helping with household chores, which otherwise, generally, all fall to me.

    Anyway, the list is great, hope you can stick to it– but make room for dinners by design and other creative problem solving! 🙂

  5. […] great post over at Science Based Parenting called “10 Tips to Being a Better House Husband” got me thinking about applying critical thinking to my daily […]

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